po·​lite | \ pə-ˈlīt How to pronounce polite (audio) \
politer; politest

Definition of polite

1a : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of advanced culture
b : marked by refined cultural interests and pursuits especially in arts and belles lettres
2a : showing or characterized by correct social usage
b : marked by an appearance of consideration, tact, deference, or courtesy
c : marked by a lack of roughness or crudities polite literature

Other Words from polite

politely adverb
politeness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for polite

civil, polite, courteous, gallant, chivalrous mean observant of the forms required by good breeding. civil often suggests little more than the avoidance of overt rudeness. owed the questioner a civil reply polite commonly implies polish of speech and manners and sometimes suggests an absence of cordiality. if you can't be pleasant, at least be polite courteous implies more actively considerate or dignified politeness. clerks who were unfailingly courteous to customers gallant and chivalrous imply courteous attentiveness especially to women. gallant suggests spirited and dashing behavior and ornate expressions of courtesy. a gallant suitor of the old school chivalrous suggests high-minded and self-sacrificing behavior. a chivalrous display of duty

Examples of polite in a Sentence

It was polite of him to hold the door for them. Please be polite to the guests. It isn't polite to interrupt people when they're talking. She received some polite applause despite the mistakes in her performance.
Recent Examples on the Web Banter at country music concerts is often so polite, but Block threw around plenty of expletives without apology. Journal Sentinel, 8 July 2022 Remember to be polite to the artists in each booth. The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 June 2022 Browning and Mayman are polite about the different strengths and weaknesses of each others’ designs. Rohit Jaggi, Robb Report, 16 June 2022 Tim Manley, chief of the fire department, told me that the woman was extremely polite to rescuers. Frederick Dreier, Outside Online, 28 Apr. 2022 Republicans, even those who found Trump’s personal behavior boorish, believed their party had been too polite in the past. Noah Biermanstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2022 Taking this notion of being polite to its extremes, the CMAs also made room for stars who’ve been sharing some polarizing political opinions of late, namely Jason Aldean. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, 11 Nov. 2021 Lilith Fair also helped contribute to the misbelief that music made by women had to be personal, had to be polite, and had to include an acoustic guitar. Peter Rubin, Longreads, 1 July 2022 Be polite in your refusals, but don't waste your time. Chicago Tribune, 27 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'polite.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of polite

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for polite

Middle English (Scots) polit, Latin politus, from past participle of polire

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Time Traveler for polite

Time Traveler

The first known use of polite was circa 1500

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Polite.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polite. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for polite


po·​lite | \ pə-ˈlīt How to pronounce polite (audio) \
politer; politest

Kids Definition of polite

: showing courtesy or good manners

Other Words from polite

politely adverb
politeness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on polite

Nglish: Translation of polite for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of polite for Arabic Speakers


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